Council leaders clash over unitary council debate

Martin Tett has clashed with District Council chiefs who want a 'two-tier' unitary solution
Martin Tett has clashed with District Council chiefs who want a 'two-tier' unitary solution

The leader of the county council has hit back at district chiefs who last week claimed “biggest is not always best”, as the unitary debate continues.

Leader of Bucks County Council, Martin Tett, has insisted just one “super authority” will provide “the greatest possible level” of savings.

He added that the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, Sajid Javid, said two councils for the north and south of the county are unlikely to “sustain major services”.

Cllr Tett said: “We are very clear that ‘one size’ does not ‘fit all’. Right across Buckinghamshire the different local communities all have differing needs. It is not ‘north versus south’.

“Marlow is different from Wycombe, Wycombe from Chesham, Chesham from Wendover and Wendover from Buckingham.

“That’s why the new single council will have local services tailored to the needs and wishes of each community, via a network of community centres which are fully costed into the business case for the new council.

“The crucial part of this is that the new council will work in close collaboration with local partners and communities to co-design these new, very local services, so people will have the opportunity to shape services for their own area.”

The district leaders submitted a proposal to the Government last year for two unitary authorities in the county to rival BCC’s plans to scrap all four district councils and replace them with one “super authority”.

Last month the Government backed plans for a single-unitary authority – and the public now have until the end of May to share their views on the proposals.

The leader reminded Bucks residents that a single unitary authority would not be a “county council takeover” as the new authority would “draw upon the very best from the heritage of current district and county councils”.

He added: “Additionally, local communities will have more say in decisions on their local area and will have a stronger voice for the local issues that matter to them.

“There will also be opportunities for more services to be put under more local control, if that’s what the community decides – along with the budget and support to make this sustainable and successful.

“This is a proven model with evidence of where this is working very successfully in other unitary county areas such as Wiltshire, Shropshire and Durham”.

To have your say on the proposals email sajid.javid@communities.gsi.gov.uk by May 25.